05/31/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Specter Switch: Another "Win" for the Grand Old Purity!

Pure like ice. Pure like fire.

That's the way they wanted it. That's the way they'd have it, and they'd leave no tone unspurned. Only true believers need apply.

They were cleaning House, and cleaning Senate. They were already hard at work in the states. The counties. The cities and the towns. They had a vision, a vision of their party, and the vision looked exactly the same as they did. The resemblance was amazing. They took it as a sign.

It would make it all so much simpler, too. Just a few more cleanings and they'd be there: the party of their dreams. Right would make might. And the more right, the more might. They were counting on it.

The question, of course, was when to stop. The question, once the purifying starts, is always when to stop.

Because once the severely right had cleansed the party of the merely right and the nearly right, they weren't finished. They turned, as they had to turn, on one another.

Far right, it turned out, wasn't far right enough -- not for the purity police. There were still gradations left, and having gradations left was just not right. It was certainly not far right.

So they tossed a few more over the side, including some who had been doing the tossing themselves just days before. At first glance, the tossees might have looked exactly the same as the tossers did. But not when they looked again. In fact, the harder the tossers looked, the clearer it became that the tossees didn't look anything at all like the tossers did, so over the side they went, and good riddance.

Good riddance to them, and to anyone who sympathized with them.

A few more weeks of this and there wouldn't be enough people around to throw a good tossing, but that was fine, the survivors insisted to each other. It wasn't a question of numbers. It was a question of commitment.

The entire party had to consist entirely of people who were entirely committed. It was that simple, and that important. And the cleansing continued.

It wasn't long before everybody who remained believed exactly the same things as everybody else who remained. They were totally faithful, each and every one of them, to the very same core ideas. But that wasn't good enough, not anymore. Some of them, it seemed, had arrived at their true and faithful beliefs later than others; they might have hesitated along the way. They might even have had doubts. They'd have to go.

Some of them hadn't pushed those core ideas forward with the same vigor, or the same volume (or was it venom?) as others had. They'd have to go.

The momentarily flexible and the occasionally pragmatic, those who were even sporadically inclined to let facts trump principles -- they'd have to go, too. Start letting reality intrude on belief, the purity police understood, and there'd be no stopping it. Better to snuff that sort of thing out. Stomp it dead before it gained a foothold.

So they stomped and snuffed, and cleaned and cleansed, and tossed. And when they were finished with it, finished with their work, they looked around at what they'd done, and they were perfectly delighted with themselves.

All 11 of them.

Purity at last.

Pure like an echo in an empty room.

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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at